Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a 17-inch by 11-inch jelly roll pan, and spread with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the short sides. Grease the paper and set aside.
Into a small bowl, combine the cake flour with the baking powder and salt, then set aside.
Whip the eggs until foamy, then add the sugar and continue to beat until the eggs are airy and have tripled in volume, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract. Sift about one third of the flour mixture into the batter, folding carefully with a rubber spatula. Sift and fold in the remaining flour in 2 more additions without over mixing.
Gently pour the batter down the center of the prepared pan, spreading evenly with a long spatula. Bake until the cake springs back when pressed with a finger, about 5 – 7 minutes.
Gently lift the cake off of the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a sheet of wax paper and gently and slowly pull away the wax paper.
Spread the softened Egg Nog Ice Cream in an even layer over the surface of the cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the top and bottom. Starting with the end closest to you, begin rolling up tightly. Wrap the cake in the foil, or wax paper covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
In the bowl fitted with a mixer, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until they increase in volume and form medium-soft peaks, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar until stiff peaks form, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add the bourbon and beat for another minute more.
Carefully unwrap the cake and set on a serving platter. Spread the meringue onto the outside of the cake, sprinkle with cocoa and top with chocolate shavings.
Yield: 12 servings
EGG NOG ICE CREAM:
In a large non-reactive saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan, add the vanilla bean and bring to a gentle boil. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, bourbon and Cognac. Discard the vanilla bean. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture. In a slow, steady stream, gradually add the egg mixture to the hot cream mixture. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Remove the custard from the refrigerator and pour into an ice cream machine. Churn and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and spread, while still soft, onto the cake. (Alternately, freeze the ice cream until ready to use. Then allow to come to room temperature before using in the Buche de Noel recipe, so it can be spread easily on the cake.)
Yield: 4 cups